PUTRAJAYA, Dec 29 — Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) and most of its top leaders may have been from Umno, but delegates said their chairman’s policy speech tonight showed which party is in pole position to lead the Bumiputera community from now on.
PPBM deputy president Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir praised his father Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for striking a chord among delegates in his speech, saying the party chairman delivered clarity and guidance for the future.
“This policy speech is very important as it clarifies what is needed to be understand by Umno members.
“What I meant by that is that, we too are a product of Umno that was taught to fight for our religion, race and country but was betrayed by the party itself.
“It is clear from the speech that PPBM have taken that role instead. Therefore automatically Umno members should see that PPBM as a new form of struggle that has taken that role from Umno,” Mukhriz said.
In his speech, Dr Mahathir said PPBM is the new platform for Malays because there is no more hope in Umno.
Dr Mahathir has repeatedly said the Malay nationalist party formed in 1946 had strayed from its original purpose to protect Malay rights starting 2003 — which was when he stepped down as prime minister the first time and lost his qualification as Umno president.
Bagan Serai MP Datuk Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali, among PPBM’s most recent recruits from Umno, supported Mukhriz’s claim.
Dr Noor Azmi considered himself a relative greenhorn as a politician, saying he entered politics after serving in the medical line for over 30 years and only recently made the switch to PPBM so he could continue to be of service to the public.
“I’m here for the rakyat, especially the Bagan Serai people. I was invited to join and I want to see how we can improve the country. That’s why I joined PPBM,” he said, adding that PPBM’s central leadership had found him to be “clean”.
But Dr Noor Azmi denied that he was eyeing a position in the two-year-old party that is one of the components of the ruling Pakatan Harapan coalition, even though he believes Umno defectors who are found to be free of any taint should be given the chance to be an office-bearer in their new party.
PPBM Youth chief Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman said Dr Mahathir’s keynote speech gave hope to the Malay community unsettled by the political divisions and burdened by bread-and-butter issues.
He praised Dr Mahathir for being unapologetic in his desire to help the Bumiputera demographic group despite the persistent criticisms of being a racist.
“What is most sentimental is that whatever policies he will implement that is unpopular, whatever criticism he faces, he will always move forward for his beloved country,” the Muar MP said of Dr Mahathir.